In honor of the 23 lives lost at the Cielo Vista Walmart in El Paso one year ago, Walmart on Aug. 3 held a private remembrance event at the Grand Candela Memorial for the victims, families and associates impacted by last year’s tragedy. Following the event at noon, the public was invited to reflect at the memorial, located in the store parking lot.
On Aug. 3, 2019, a gunman with an assault-style rifle opened fire at the Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, Texas, where Walmart store No. 2201 and Sam’s Club No. 6502 are located, killing 23 and wounding 23 others. Just a few days prior, two Walmart associates were killed by another associate in a Walmart store in Southaven, Miss.
The deadly public shootings, part of a wave of gun violence, prompted Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart to ask customers to no longer carry firearms in stores in states where open carry is permitted.
To honor the 23 lives lost from last year’s tragedy, Walmart added 23 plaques to the memorial site. Additional space was also included for visitors to leave mementos honoring the victims. While the Grand Candela and plaza were built to celebrate the lives of the victims of the Aug. 3, 2019, tragedy, it is also a place of respite and reconnection for survivors and the community, said Walmart in a statement.
“Today is a difficult day, but it is also a day of hope,” said Robert Evans, store manager of the Cielo Vista Walmart, in a statement. Evans, who was on duty when the tragedy began last year, continued, “It has been incredible to see the outpouring of community support and watch people come together in the Borderland community. It can be a source of healing for me and the associates at our store.”
Walmart delayed today’s opening of the Cielo Vista store, allowing victims, families and associates time to reflect with minimal distraction. Additionally, the company donated $50,000 to support the United Way of El Paso’s Aug. 3 event.
“This anniversary marks a tragic time for so many, and I’m humbled by the city of El Paso’s resiliency through its healing,” said Todd Peterson, Walmart VP of operations support, in a release. “We hope to continue playing a meaningful role in that process and will do all we can, today and in the future, to honor the lives of all who were impacted by last year’s tragic event.”
Walmart, which operates 593 retail units in Texas, and the Walmart Foundation have also committed $300,000 to matching grants from El Paso nonprofits during this year’s El Paso Giving Day hosted by the Paso del Norte Community Foundation.